Dustin Johnson prepares to putt on the first green Thursday on the Pebble Beach course. (Ben Margot / Associated Press)
Pebble Beach, Calif. — Andrew Loupe knows how one week can change everything. He can only hope his 8-under 63 in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the start of another one.
Loupe had to wait three hours to tee off because of rain Thursday, and then played bogey-free on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. That gave him the lowest score among those who finished their rounds.
Loupe hasn’t made a cut in five starts in his rookie season. He might not even have a PGA Tour card except for his tie for sixth in the last event of the Web.com Tour Finals. He had missed the cut in the previous three “Finals” events.
Monterey Peninsula was the easiest of the three courses. Jimmy Walker had a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach
Tiger Woods is skipping the Match Play Championship in Arizona in two weeks.
Woods announced on his website Thursday that he wasn’t planning to compete in the first World Golf Championship.
He says his plan was to attend the Sochi Olympics in Russia before his girlfriend and champion skier Lindsey Vonn got injured.
Instead, he will stay home and prepare for three tournaments in Florida. He’ll next play the Honda Classic on Feb. 27 followed by title defenses at Doral and Bay Hill.
This was the first time Woods has missed the Match Play Championship when healthy and the tournament was held in America.
This means the Match Play will be without three of the top players in the world — Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.
American Jessica Korda sustained her strong early-season form to share the lead with compatriot Katie Burnett after Thursday’s first round of the Ladies Australian Masters.
After winning the season-opening LPGA event in the Bahamas last week, the 20-year-old Korda carded eight birdies and three bogeys in a 5-under 68.
Korda won the 2012 Australian Open and again showed her liking for Australian conditions, holding the outright lead until Burnett closed with birdies on her last two holes.
They were a stroke ahead of Valentine Derrey of France finished with an eagle on 18 to card a 4-under 69, matched by American Cheyenne Woods, South Africans Stacey Lee Bregman and Lee-Anne Pace and Canadian Lorie Kane.
Defending champion and eight-time tournament-winner Karrie Webb of Australia shot a first round 74, six shots off the pace.
“It was a tricky day,” Webb said. “Not a disaster, though.
“That’s my first round (for 2014) under the belt and we’ll see how the rest of the tournament goes.”
The United States Golf Association has approved the use of distance-measuring devices in all of its amateur championships and their qualifying events, starting this year.
The USGA’s championship committee announced the decision Thursday at its annual meeting.
The USGA said the ruling reflects a joint decision with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.
The championship committee voted to adopt an optional local rule that has been available under the Rules of Golf since 2006. Distance-measuring devices will remain banned at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open and their qualifying events.
“We have seen progressive developments in technologies available to golfers who seek to improve their playing performance and enjoyment that also maintain the essential elements of the game,” said Thomas J. O’Toole Jr., USGA vice president and chairman of the championship committee. “It is in this spirit that we are allowing the use of distance-measuring devices in our amateur competitions.”